Fortissimo Films has acquired worldwide rights outside China to the next project to be directed by John Woo, $40m historical epic 1949.

Produced by Woo and Terence Chang's Lion Rock Production, the film is set to star Korean actress Seong Hye Gyo and hot Taiwanese actor Chang Chen, who appears in Woo's current production Red Cliff. Further casting is currently being finalised.

Scripted by Wang Hui-ling (Lust, Caution), the Chinese-language project is an epic love story set against the back-drop of the Second World War and the final years of China's civil war prior to the establishment of the People's Republic of China.

Investors in the film include Ling I-Jun and China Film Group. Production is scheduled to start by the end of the year, on location in Taiwan and China, in time for a Dec 2009 release. Next year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC.

The deal was brokered by Fortissimo co-chairs Michael J. Werner and Wouter Barendrecht with Chang and follows their second collaboration with Lion Rock following Blood Brothers.